San Jose, California
Grant Ranch Park
Joseph D. Grant, otherwise known as Grant Ranch, is the largest park within our county park system. That is a bold statement. However, we with Wild Recovery can say that we have come to this park on numerous occasions and have yet to duplicate a hike (so there it is). Joseph Grant Park has 9,553 acres of rich open space. The trails are intricate and diverse. The entire trail system within the park total 51 miles (wow). The diversity span the hills travel into the valley and on along the ridge. The elevation gain is had with sweat & tears as it is pretty steep. But the price is a fair one once you get a look around from the summit. The views are spectacular.
The landscape, of course, is characteristic of the east foothills. The hills are covered with low-lying grass and are scattered with majestic oaks. The oak-woodland community is said to be typical of California. The diverse oak community, which includes Blue, Black, Live and Valley Oak species, is a breeding and food habitat for over 70 species of bird and mammal.
Joseph D. Grant Park is located at the foot of Mt Hamilton. The valley, known as Halls Valley, is suspended between two major ridges in the Diablo Range. Seismic activity along the still active Calaveras Fault continues to alter the parks terrain even today.
From San Jose, take 280 toward the east hills. This will turn into Highway 680 as you pass Hwy 101. Take the Alum Rock exit and turn right. Go all the way through town to Mt. Hamilton Road and turn right. The park is only eight miles from this intersection but can take a good deal of time as the road has some serious turns. Use caution and give yourself enough time to arrive safely.
Our hike will begin at the Grant Lake parking area. This is not the main entrance to the park. To get to Grant Lake parking lot you have to pass the main entrance to the park. You will see the main entrance on your right as you descend to the valley floor. Grant Lake parking lot is on the left-hand side of the road, only a few hundred feet from the main entrance. Parking is free and large enough to contain our group plus a few extra so come early.
From the lot we will follow along the lake to the Los Huecos Trail. This trail is nothing nice (at least it wasn't this summer). It gains 1000 feet in under 2 miles. It does it in short steep spurts. It does have relief portions or relatively flat sections where you can gain your strength for the next push. At the summit we join up with the Canada De Pala Trail for a short span (about ½ mile).
Our meeting site is on this stretch under a very large and very old oak, which will (hopefully) provide us with some protection from the wind (and possible rain). From there, once we all get our fill of recovery and beauty, we will descend along the Halls Valley Trail back to Grant Lake and our cars.
The total hike is 5 miles with an elevation of 1000 feet. We personally felt this hike to be a Level 3 but it could have been the heat from our scouting expedition this summer. So, we will officially give it a Level 2.5.
This is a winter hike so please wear plenty of layers. We will be out in the open and high up in the hills. We will be exposed to both wind and possible rain. A wool hat or something to keep your ears warm is probably a real good idea. Bring something water-resistant to sit on.
We may come across some grazing cattle. Please leave these animals to their business. Though they look domesticated, they can become quite agitated and aggressive if threatened or frightened.
We may also come across European wild pigs. These animals have been crossbred with domestic pigs back in the day and are still seen wondering in packs. Again, it is a real good idea to let these creatures be as well. The male pigs are quite large and we've heard they run pretty fast :)
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